Another Perspective on the “Retail Apocalypse”

Michael Snyder of “The Economic Collapse Blog” has written extensively on the “Retail Apocalypse“. Many well known and well established retail outlets are going bankrupt at a record rate. Some may no longer exist in a short time frame.

But is this entirely a bad thing?

This won’t be an extensive economic analysis. This is mostly anecdotal from a consumer.

We all have to buy things to maintain our lives. Some things are necessary. Most things are not. And we’ve transitioned to a hybrid model of online/in-store.

Some things are easier to buy on-line. I have a generic Keurig coffee pot. (Mr. Coffee, actually). I need K-cups for it, because I won’t live without my coffee. I can get 100 K-cups on Amazon for about $35, and they show up on my doorstep almost magically within about 24 hours. That’s a better price than I can get in local stores, and I don’t have to stand in line or go anywhere. I’m not changing this pattern anytime soon.

I used to LOVE bookstores. But I’ve reached a point where my bookshelf space is very limited, so I buy my books in Kindle, epub, or pdf. I only buy physical books if I absolutely have to have the book and there are no other options. But even so, for rare books, Amazon usually has better deals, and even for those few F’ing publishers who haven’t left the last century, Amazon still has better prices, making Barnes and Nobel not an option. Why would I deal with local traffic to drive to B&N to pay MORE for a book than Amazon? They don’t mean that much to me. I miss Borders, but I had the same problem wth them.

“Anchor” stores (Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, etc) – who cares? Their prices are way off the charts for my budget. I have pretty much never shopped at them. I haven’t quite adapted to buying clothes online (last time I bought a dress shirt from Amazon, I washed it once and it permanently wrinkled), but I’m not paying $50 for a shirt. Plus, you still have to try them on. I usually go to Kohl’s when I need work clothes.

Target – I used to like to shop at Target. But after their 2013 credit card breach that was totally preventable (They had FireEye, and got the warnings, but ignored them to their own peril) and their tranny policy, I’m done with Target. I bought a Microsoft Band from them in 2014. That was my LAST purchase from Target ever. I won’t allow my wife to shop there either. When they finally go out of business, I’ll drink to that. (Business) death to Target! And I got so freaking sick of every time I walked up to the register, being asked if I wanted to apply for a Target credit card. The last time I shopped there, I replied: “No thanks, I don’t want my information stolen.”

Wal-mart – good if I need something in an emergency at 4 in the morning, like the last time my smoke detector batteries died in the middle of the night and I was out of batteries. And I’ve bought my last couple TVs there. They have good prices. But I don’t go out of my way to shop at Wal-mart. Only when it’s an emergency. And even then, I go either late at night, or early in the morning before the average Wal-mart shopper is out of bed.

K-mart – I used to like K-mart, but our local K-mart (actually, out of business and long since closed) is in a crappy area. I only went there once, and don’t miss it.

Furniture stores – Don’t care. How often do you need furniture anyway? You buy a bed once every 10-20 years. I can’t see spending $5000 on a couch. I don’t go in furniture stores.

Best Buy – I would miss them. They’re great for impulse buys that I don’t want to wait for shipping on. If I need a new computer, I want it right now, not in 2 days. But even I don’t need that many new computers.

Now, for stores I can’t live without:

Grocery stores: until I can get my beer as easily as I can my coffee, I still need grocery stores. And my wife needs them for the other non-beer items we need for our household.

Convenience stores: I can’t buy smokes as easily as I can coffee either. Gotta have Wawa. Plus, gas. Although it would be great if I could order 20 gallons of regular a week and have it show up in my driveway.

Vape stores: I need juice and atomizers for my vaporizer. And when I’m too lazy to order them online, I need a place I can get to locally.

And I probably need places where I can get my oil changed and general maintenance on my truck.

So for the “retail apocalypse?” I’m not that torn up about it. Brick and mortar stores, unless they fill some specialty that can’t be done online (like beer or oil changes) are like the “buggy whip manufacturers” that went out of business once the car took off.

Funny cliche I came across recently: 100 years ago, everybody had a horse and only the rich had cars. Now, everybody has a car and only the rich have horses.

New iPad Pro/iOS 11

The newest Apple announcement (I think it was last week) had some yawns and a few things to get excited about. Let’s talk about the 10.5″ iPad Pro. According to Mac Rumors:

I’ve seen the 12″ iPad Pro. It almost seems too big. Haven’t bothered checking out the 9.7″. I have an iPad Mini 3, which I don’t use all that much.

I’ve had the iPad 1,2,3 and the Mini 2 and 3. (The Mini 2 was from a failed mobility project at work. They deactivated the cell data and told me they didn’t want the tablet back).

The iPad has a buttload of promise, but one huge shortfall: it’s still a MOBILE operating system. That means you can only do one thing at a time. My personal “workflow” normally involves having a YouTube video playing in the background, or a podcast, while I’m going through email, reading RSS, or whatever else. You CANNOT do that on an iPad. OK, I have two Minis, so I guess I could play the YouTube video on one while I work on the other. Yeah.

Apple seriously needs to put some desktop features on the iPad, specifically the ability to open a YouTube video in Safari, then switch back to Apple Mail. Normally, when Apple goes through its annual update to iOS and MacOS, I see things like the following:

Update to iMessages!

Update to Photos!

14 freaking cameras that work as one!

Undecipherable update to Apple Music!

None of which excite me. I use an Android phone, so iMessages is useless to me, and I have yet to get excited about a new iPhone due to the above. Photos has some usefulness, but for my purposes, the built-in Windows photo viewer does what I need. And on my Mac, I just go through my pictures in Finder. Don’t care about cameras; ever since the iPhone 4 era, phone cameras have been at the resolution I need. And I don’t use Apple Music, which only works on Apple products. I’ve been using Amazon Prime Music lately (not the extra subscription service.)

According to Mac Rumors, iOS 11 does seem to have some interesting features, (at least on the iPad Pro):

Let’s see what Apple has to say.

Files – could be a game changer. Imagine that; actually being able to manipulate the file system on a tablet (you could do this on Windows tablets back in the 90’s… welcome to the future, Apple!)

The Dock – could be interesting. Is this only on the Pro, or will I also get this when I upgrade my Mini 3? (Yes, at the bottom of the page, both the Mini 2 and Mini 3 will get iOS 11. But will they get ALL THE FEATURES?)

Multitasking – if this is available on my Minis, that would be great. I could use them more.

Drag and Drop – again, you had this capability on Windows tablets back in the 90’s. You’re way late to the party, Apple!

Apple Pencil – will this work on the Mini?

Instant Markup – Adobe has had this on phones and tablets for years, but having it native would be useful.

Instant notes – again, had this in Evernote and OneNote. My cheap ass RCA Windows 10 tablet from Walmart came with this feature. But having it on the iPad means we’ll think Apple invented it!

Inline Drawing – looks pretty cool!

Scan and sign – part revolutionary, part late to the party. Evernote did this years ago. I had to scan my entire 110 page divorce agreement in 2015. I used Evernote for this. But to be able to sign… will anybody accept it? I tried to sign documents in Adobe with a stylus and had them rejected. I had to revert to 1848 technology (yes, the fax was invented THAT FREAKING LONG AGO) and “wet sign” and fax said documents, even though my signature looked exactly the same. I couldn’t tell the difference. How could they?

Quicktype Keyboard – interesting. I’ll have to play with it.

Augmented reality – just an API. Others have to develop apps for it. I had an AR app on the Nokia 920 I had in 2014. It was pretty cool. And Apple has had the ability for people to develop hardware that plugs into iOS devices since the iPad 2. I don’t know if anybody ever did.

That’s enough. I don’t get paid for this.

Chances are, I’ll get the public beta when it’s available. I’ll make some updates after I’ve gotten my hands on it. Now I need to look up MacOS 10.13. High Sierra. Although it’s been years since Apple introduced anything revolutionary into their MacOS.